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Dr. Tia Brown McNair Shares Importance Of Building Relationships With Students, Closing Equity Gaps

President’s Lecture Series: Part II of Student Success & Equity Summit

During her presentation of Part II of the 2022 Student Success & Equity Summit of the Spring President’s Lecture Series on April 8, Dr. Tia Brown McNair highlighted the significance of building relationships with students as one of the main components of academic success and closing equity gaps. 

She pointed to UHD’s efforts, noting she’s impressed with the direction the University is heading with the implementation of the UHD Institutional Compass developed by President Loren J. Blanchard. The core values stressed through that initiative are strengthening justice, empowering student success and equity, supporting institutional excellence and infrastructure, and positioning UHD as an anchor institution.

“I love the connection that UHD is making in students’ lives,” said McNair, pointing out that it’s a sign of the University’s commitment to the Institutional Compass and its Four Points of Excellence. “Students are affected the most when we are sharing our own stories with them – it’s the number one reason for student success.”

McNair noted that as a Hispanic-Serving Institution and Minority-Serving Institution (MSI), UHD needs to continue to be innovative in serving the diverse needs of the University’s more than 15,000 students.

“You serve a wide population of students from many different backgrounds,” she said. “It is necessary to be adaptable and flexible to meet students where they are while making those personal connections. In doing so, you will positively influence their lives and create a culture for success academically and into the professional world after graduation.”

In addition to McNair’s presentation, the day-long event included several topic-related sessions, including a panel discussion about serving students at a diverse institution as well as breakout sessions related to financial aid, career readiness, student success, and many other academic-related topics.

McNair is Vice President in the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Student Success, and Executive Director for the Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation (TRHT) Campus Centers at the American Association of Colleges and Universities in Washington, D.C. She oversees both funded projects and the organization’s continuing programs on equity, inclusive excellence, high-impact practices, and student success.

Additionally, McNair directs the Summer Institutes on High-Impact Practices and Student Success and TRHT Campus Centers and serves as the project director for several organizational initiatives. She is the lead author of “From Equity Talk to Equity Walk: Expanding Practitioner Knowledge for Racial Justice in Higher Education” and “Becoming a Student-Ready College: A New Culture of Leadership for Student Success.” In 2020, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education named McNair one of 35 outstanding women who have tackled some of higher education’s toughest challenges and made a positive difference in their communities. 

Part I of the Summit featured award-winning educator Dr. Timothy Renick, who addressed ways institutions can bridge equity gaps to increase student success in his presentation, “Inclusive Excellence, the Way Forward: Recommitting To Student Success.”  

The President’s Lecture Series on Justice, Equity & Inclusion began in 2021 addressing topics such as health equity among communities of color, organizational diversity, and the impact of climate change in Houston. The series is supported by a $75,000 grant from the ECMC Foundation and sponsored by the UHD Office of the Provost.


About the University of Houston-Downtown

The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.

U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.